Women's Literary Careers and Antebellum Fiction, 15 Aug 2009

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C19 Americanists
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I am soliciting abstracts for a panel to be proposed for the inaugural conference of C19: The Society for Nineteenth-Century Americanists, to be held 20-23 May 2010 at Pennsylvania State University.

More than 30 years ago, Nina Baym published The Shape of Hawthorne's career. Not long after, Baym published Woman's Fiction, which set the agenda for the recovery of women's novels. One might expect that, more than three decades into the revival of women's fiction, American literary historians would be engaging women writers across the range of their careers, in the fashion of Melville or Hawthorne. Instead, women who were productive for decades have entered literary history primarily through single books -- Uncle Tom's Cabin for Harriet Beecher Stowe, for example. Literary historians have been more willing to concede that women who began publishing in the late 19th century had careers and that their works might be most productively considered in the context of an author's entire oeuvre, in part because more women began self-consciously fashioning themselves as "serious" artists (e.g. Edith Wharton). Nevertheless, it would seem that antebellum women who actively wrote fiction for decades were more than accidental or haphazard producers. This panel thus seeks proposals that consider the concept of women's literary careers in relation to antebellum fiction. How might literary history look different if a broader range of women's fictions were included? How might regularly analyzed women's novels look in the context of their author's broader careers? Papers may address a single author or more than one author, and they may address issues of authorial professionalism, textual analysis, or both. Although papers should have at least one foot in the antebellum era, authors' careers (including Stowe's) bridged the Civil War, so papers may do so as well.

Submit a 1 pg. abstract and a 1 pg. vitae to Melissa J. Homestead, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 202 Andrews, Lincoln, NE 68588-0333, mhomestead2@unl.edu, by 15 Aug 2009. Submission by e-mail attachment preferred. I will communicate with those submitting abstracts by 30 Aug 2009, and (if there is sufficient interest) submit a panel proposal to C19 by the 30 Sep 2009 deadline. C19 is scheduled to accept or reject proposals by 15 Dec 2009.